Opponents bring fight over Burrillville power plant to Woonsocket

Opponents bring fight over Burrillville power plant to Woonsocket

Councilor Brien tells crowd: 'We are not prepared at this time to offer any kind of direction for this issue.'

WOONSOCKET – Opponents of a proposed 1,000-megawatt power plant packed Harris Hall on Monday, Oct. 3 to deliver a unified message to the Woonsocket City Council: Don’t sell water to the company that aims to build a $700 million facility in nearby Burrillville.

And while councilors responded that no proposal was before them, no one denied that negotiations could be in the works to sell city water to cool the Invenergy Thermal Development LLC’s proposed gas and oil burning plant.

“This City Council cannot consider anything until it is on our agenda,” said Council Vice President Albert Brien to the dozens of Burrillville residents and environmental advocates in attendance. “We are not prepared at this time to offer any kind of direction for this issue.”

Monday night’s meeting was the latest stop for plant opponents, who have been working since early this year to block the proposed “Clear River Energy Center” the company hopes to build on Wallum Lake Road. Invenergy has proposed the largest plant in the state for the small town, saying the facility will replace older, more polluting, less efficient modes of power generation.

A decision by Energy Facilities Siting Board earlier the same day as the city meeting may have dramatically raised the stakes for Woonsocket’s role in the issue.

The board gave the Chicago-based energy developer just 10 days to show why its application to build the plant shouldn’t be suspended over lack of a plan for water. Both the Pascoag Utility District and the Harrisville Water and Fire District have rejected previous proposals by Invenergy to secure the water needed to cool plant generators.

The facility is expected to need an average of 102,000 gallons of water a day, with the amount spiking during winter months to some 925,000 gallons daily.

A show cause hearing where Invenergy must present a new water plan is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 13.

In Woonsocket, opponents came out in mass with the belief that Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt and her administration have been in talks with Invenergy representatives for the purchase of city water.

They were told that the council had been briefed on the issue in executive session, and that’s where the discussion would stay.

Asked directly if city officials were considering allowing the plant to be built on Diamond Hill Road in Woonsocket as an alternative to Burrillville, City Solicitor Michael Marcello definitively rejected the idea, which has been discussed on talk shows and among plant opponents for the past week.

“I will say that emphatically, that there have been no discussions with the administration, that we’re aware of, that I’m aware of, to relocate the power plant within the city of Woonsocket,” Marcello said.

City Councilor Daniel Gendron said he put discussion of the plant on the council’s agenda in hopes to add transparency to the issue after receiving numerous phone calls.

“I think that we needed to start this talk and squelch some of these rumors,” Gendron said.

But Marcello warned that conversation regarding the city’s negotiations were meant to stay in executive session, held just prior to the council public meeting on Monday.

And accusations that the city was quietly pursuing a deal in a way that was less than transparent continued to fly.

Denise Potvin of Burrillville said that Alan Shoer of Adler Pollock & Sheehan, one of Invenergy’s attorneys, is also the attorney for the city’s water department. Another speaker charged the Invenergy executives recently attended a fundraiser for the mayor.

Kevin Cleary, chairman of the Burrillville Conservation Commission, said that Ivenergy’s past involves a “paper trail of litigation and lawsuits.”

“The residents of Burrillville respectively request that the request for your water be denied,” said Cleary. “We urge you to please not enter any negotiations with this company.”

Baldelli-Hunt did not attend the Monday night meeting.

Karen Palmer of Cumberland urged city officials to use caution in siphoning off Woonsocket’s limited resources.

“I think we need to be really careful of what we do with what’s left of the water here,” Palmer said, noting that while the council may not need to vote on the issue yet, “I do believe a proposal is going to come across your desk sooner rather than later.”


People from Woonsocket can guide you from experience. If mayor baldelli-hunt says she did not speak to Invenergy, she spoke to them. If she says she spoke to them, she did not speak to them. I'm sorry to inform you that this is a done deal. Invenergy offered to throw a Market Basket in with the deal. The mayor could not refuse this offer.

Let's see...nobody wants natural gas power plants, no nuclear power plants, no wind turbines, no nothing. So I suggest to all the anti-power plant people - disconnect yourself from the grid entirely, because your electricity is being generated somewhere using these fuels, correct? It's ok if it's in another state's backyard, but not your own? Such a typical Rhode Island frame of mind. All about me, me, me. Don't be a hypocrite, disconnect from the grid NOW!

Well, here we go again with "back-room" deals! Where is that TRANSPARENCY which we were all promised three years ago? I really believe that many people don't understand the true meaning of this word!

That being said, thanks to Councilman Gendron for having brought this topic to the forefront, and to our Burrillville neighbors who attended the Council meeting [this past week] to also forewarn us about the possibility of the City's becoming involved with the great "WATER TOWER MONSTER" project.

Our City's water supply is our most important commodity and it should be PROTECTED! Some people aren't recognizing its importance and would be willing to SELL it without any consideration to future needs. To some people, "MONEY is everything"!

If people recall, just this past summer, other communities were limited to their water usage, while Woonsocket was not. Does it make sense for the City to even consider a new company's WATER USAGE of ONE MILLION GALLONS a day---no matter whether it's wastewater or clean water? Both of these water supplies would have their own concerns and consequences.

Does our community want to continue to "be left in the dark" about upcoming projects, or do we want our officials to be up front with us? WHO pays the taxes in this City....it's the PEOPLE and THEY should have a "say" in its operation; however, the experience has been that when people would try to have a "say", they were accused of not knowing what they were talking about or that they did not have the appropriate facts, etc... Well, we WANT ALL THE FACTS from now on.

The PEOPLE had better remember WHO made us aware of this particular 'behind-the-scenes deal'. One can read "between the lines" [above article] that this "MONSTER" was not supposed to be discussed PRIOR TO THE ELECTION! I wonder why?

No doubt, there probably will be more discussions about this topic in the future. Let's hope that it will be kept "on hold" until AFTER the election!

Remember, "People will take ADVANTAGE of you as much as you ALLOW them to"!


"Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change."

D51, your the ladder of the two by the way.

Please, if you want facts, get them from someone who has accurate information. Not from someone truly so bent out of shape that they genuinely wish for the failure, misstep or bad in everything the mayor and her administration does.

For 3 years now, D51 and others of the vocal minority who have disdain for the mayor, have adamantly accused the her of looking out for the best interest of her, her family, her friends, her associates or God knows who else. That is a long time with the same old allegations and thoughts. The game is old now. Bring some proof or something to give us insight of how wrongdoing or 'crooked politics' is at play. I'll be the first to keep an open mind if any of such is true and first to speak out against it.

'Do not hire your child for an unadvertised city job when you are the mayor."


Video speaks for itself.

Don't send Burrillville down the river, so to speak.

Dream Team,
District 51 is simply saying what everyone already knows, which is that you can never believe or get a straight and honest answer from Mayor Baldelli-Hunt. She is forever stuck on the Spin cycle.

Listen to the attached clip of Mayor Baldelli-Hunt speaking to Buddy Cianci. As a State Rep, she voted for a Budget that cut State Education Aid to the City by $7 million. She then tried to blame the Fontaine Administration for not filling that gap. Her dancing and dishonesty is on full display here:


"A picture is worth a thousand words"!

Just viewed the video which was provided by kcinri6876. WOW! If and when discussions begin re: the "WATER TOWER MONSTER", this video should be made available, in some manner, to the people of Woonsocket! Surely, the topic of our road repairs will become 'null and void', if this project becomes a reality!

Also just viewed the Cianci video which was also very interesting. Have to give Cianci credit for getting to the bottom line with his questions.

Why would a State Rep. vote for cutting State Education Aid by $7 million for its own City?

Thank you both for this information.



It's a shame when corporate america tells a small town like burrillville you have no voice.People move to burrillville to distance themselves from deception and politics.